Epileptic seizures, particularly infantile spasms, are often seen in infants with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) soon after birth. It is feared that there are long-term developmental and cognitive consequences from ongoing, frequent epilepsy. In addition, the hallmark brain pathology of TSC, cortical tubers and giant cells are fully developed at late gestational ages. These observations have led us to examine the benefit of prenatal rapamycin in a new fetal brain model of TSC. In this Tsc1cc Nes-cre+ mouse model, recombination and loss of Tsc1 in neural progenitor cells leads to brain enlargement, hyperactivation of mTOR, and neonatal death on P0 due to reduced pup–maternal interaction. A single dose of prenatal rapamycin given to pregnant dams (1 mg/kg, subcutaneous) rescued the lethality of mutant mice. This one dose of prenatal rapamycin treatment reduced hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway in the mutant brain without causing apparent pregnancy loss. Continued postnatal rapamycin beginning at day 8 extended the survival of these mice to a median of 12 days with complete suppression of hyperactive mTOR. However, the rapamycin-treated mutants developed enlarged brains with an increased number of brain cells, displaying marked runting and developmental delay. These observations demonstrate the therapeutic benefit and limitations of prenatal rapamycin in a prenatal-onset brain model of TSC. Our data also suggest the possibility and limitations of this approach for TSC infants and mothers.
We describe a transgenic mouse line, Pax8-rtTA, which, under control of the mouse Pax8 promoter, directs high levels of expression of the reverse tetracycline–dependent transactivator (rtTA) to all proximal and distal tubules and the entire collecting duct system of both embryonic and adult kidneys. Using crosses of Pax8-rtTA mice with tetracycline-responsive c-MYC mice, we established a new, inducible model of polycystic kidney disease that can mimic adult onset and that shows progression to renal malignant disease. When targeting the expression of transforming growth factor-β1 to the kidney, we avoided early lethality by discontinuous treatment and successfully established an inducible model of renal fibrosis. Finally, a conditional knockout of the gene encoding tuberous sclerosis complex-1 was achieved, which resulted in the early outgrowth of giant polycystic kidneys reminiscent of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. These experiments establish Pax8-rtTA mice as a powerful tool for modeling renal diseases in transgenic mice.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates cellular processes important for progression of human cancer. RAD001 (everolimus), an mTORC1 (mTOR/raptor) inhibitor, has broad antitumor activity in preclinical models and cancer patients. Although most tumor lines are RAD001 sensitive, some are not. Selective mTORC1 inhibition can elicit increased AKT S473 phosphorylation, involving insulin receptor substrate 1, which is suggested to potentially attenuate effects on tumor cell proliferation and viability. Rictor may also play a role because rictor kinase complexes (including mTOR/rictor) regulate AKT S473 phosphorylation. The role of raptor and rictor in the in vitro response of human cancer cells to RAD001 was investigated. Using a large panel of cell lines representing different tumor histotypes, the basal phosphorylation of AKT S473 and some AKT substrates was found to correlate with the antiproliferative response to RAD001. In contrast, increased AKT S473 phosphorylation induced by RAD001 did not correlate. Similar increases in AKT phosphorylation occurred following raptor depletion using siRNA. Strikingly, rictor down-regulation attenuated AKT S473 phosphorylation induced by mTORC1 inhibition. Further analyses showed no relationship between modulation of AKT phosphorylation on S473 and T308 and AKTsubstrate phosphorylation patterns. Using a dual pan-class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/mTOR catalytic inhibitor (NVP-BEZ235), currently in phase I trials, concomitant targeting of these kinases inhibited AKT S473 phosphorylation, eliciting more profound cellular responses than mTORC1 inhibition alone. However, reduced cell viability could not be predicted from biochemical or cellular responses to mTORC1 inhibitors. These data could have implications for the clinical application of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/mTOR inhibitors.
Constitutive activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a key kinase complex that regulates cell size and growth, is observed with inactivating mutations of either of the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) genes, Tsc1 and Tsc2. Tsc1 and Tsc2 are highly expressed in cardiovascular tissue but their functional role there is unknown. We generated a tissue-specific knock-out of Tsc1, using a conditional allele of Tsc1 and a cre recombinase allele regulated by the smooth muscle protein-22 (SM22) promoter (Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/−) to constitutively activate mTOR in cardiovascular tissue. Significant gene recombination (∼80%) occurred in the heart by embryonic day (E) 15, and reduction in Tsc1 expression with increased levels of phosphorylated S6 kinase (S6K) and S6 was observed, consistent with constitutive activation of mTORC1. Cardiac hypertrophy was evident by E15 with post-natal progression to heart weights of 142 ± 24 mg in Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice versus 65 ± 14 mg in controls (P < 0.01). Median survival of Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice was 24 days, with none surviving beyond 6 weeks. Pathologic and echocardiographic analysis revealed severe biventricular hypertrophy without evidence of fibrosis or myocyte disarray, and significant reduction in the left ventricular end-diastolic diameter (P < 0.001) and fractional index (P < 0.001). Inhibition of mTORC1 by rapamycin resulted in prolonged survival of Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice, with regression of ventricular hypertrophy. These data support a critical role for the Tsc1/Tsc2-mTORC1-S6K axis in the normal development of cardiovascular tissue and also suggest possible therapeutic potential of rapamycin in cardiac disorders where pathologic mTORC1 activation occurs.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a human genetic disorder in which loss of either TSC1 or TSC2 leads to development of hamartoma lesions, which can progress and be life-threatening or fatal. The TSC1/TSC2 protein complex regulates the state of activation of mTORC1. Tsc2+/− mice develop renal cystadenoma lesions which grow progressively. Both bortezomib and metformin have been proposed as potential therapeutics in TSC. We examined the potential benefit of 1 month treatment with bortezomib, and 4 month treatment with metformin in Tsc2+/− mice. Results were compared to vehicle treatment and treatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin for 1 month. We used a quantitative tumor volume measurement on stained paraffin sections to assess the effect of these drugs. The median tumor volume per kidney was decreased by 99% in mice treated with rapamycin (p = 0.0004). In contrast, the median tumor volume per kidney was not significantly reduced for either the bortezomib cohort or the metformin cohort. Biochemical studies confirmed that bortezomib and metformin had their expected pharmacodynamic effects. We conclude that neither bortezomib nor metformin has significant benefit in this native Tsc2+/− mouse model, which suggests limited benefit of these compounds in the treatment of TSC hamartomas and related lesions.
mTORC1 is a validated therapeutic target for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Here, analysis of Tsc1 deficient (mTORC1 hyperactivation) mice uncovered a FoxO-dependent negative feedback circuit constraining mTORC1-mediated renal tumorigenesis. We document robust FoxO activation in Tsc1 deficient benign polycystic kidneys and FoxO extinction upon progression to murine renal tumors; murine renal tumor progression upon genetic deletion of both Tsc1 and FoxOs; and down-regulated FoxO expression in most human renal clear cell and papillary carcinomas, yet continued expression in less aggressive RCCs and benign renal tumor subtypes. Mechanistically, integrated analyses revealed that FoxO-mediated block operates via suppression of Myc through up-regulation of the Myc antagonists, Mxi1-SRα and mir-145, establishing a FoxO-Mxi1-SRα/mir-145 axis as a major progression block in renal tumor development.
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway regulates mammalian cell growth, survival, and motility and plays a major pathogenetic role in human prostate cancer (PCa). However, the oncogenic contributions downstream of the PI3K pathway made by mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)–mediated cell growth signal transduction in PCa have yet to be elucidated in detail. Here, we engineered constitutive mTORC1 activation in prostate epithelium by a conditional genetic deletion of tuberous sclerosis complex 1 (Tsc1), a potent negative regulator of mTORC1 signaling. Epithelial inactivation was not immediately tumorigenic, but Tsc1-deficient mice developed prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN) in lateral and anterior prostates by 6 months of age, with increasing disease penetrance over time. Lateral prostate lesions in 16- to 22-month-old mutant mice progressed to two types of more advanced lesions, adenomatous gland forming lesion (Type 1) and atypical glands embedded in massively expanded reactive stroma (Type 2). Both Type 1 and Type 2 lesions contained multiple foci of microinvasive carcinoma. Epithelial neoplastic and atypical stromal lesions persisted despite 4 weeks of RAD001 chemotherapy. Rapalogue resistance was not due to AKT or extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 activation. Expression of the homeobox gene Nkx3.1 was lost in Tsc1-deficient mPIN, and it cooperated with TSC1 loss in mPIN initiation in doubly mutant Tsc1:Nkx3.1 prostatic epithelial knockout mice. Thus, TSC1 inactivation distal to PI3K and AKT activation is sufficient to activate a molecular signaling cascade producing prostatic neoplasia and focal carcinogenesis.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an often severe neurocutaneous syndrome. Cortical tubers are the predominant neuropathological finding in TSC, and their number and location has been shown to correlate roughly with the severity of neurologic features in TSC. Past studies have shown that genomic deletion events in TSC1 or TSC2 are very rare in tubers, and suggested the potential involvement of the MAPK pathway in their pathogenesis. We used deep sequencing to assess all coding exons of TSC1 and TSC2, and the activating mutation hot spots within KRAS in 46 tubers from TSC patients. Germline heterozygous mutations were identified in 81% of tubers. The same secondary mutation in TSC2 was identified in 6 tuber samples from one individual. Further study showed that this second hit mutation was widely distributed in the cortex from one cerebral hemisphere of this individual at frequencies up to 10%. No other secondary mutations were found in the other 40 tubers analyzed. These data indicate that small second hit mutations in any of these three genes are very rare in TSC tubers. However, in one TSC individual, a second hit TSC2 point mutation occurred early during brain development, and likely contributed to tuber formation.
Renal angiomyolipoma are part of the PEComa family of neoplasms, and occur both in association with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and independent of that disorder. Previous studies on the molecular genetic alterations that occur in angiomyolipoma are very limited. We evaluated 9 angiomyolipoma for which frozen tissue was available from a consecutive surgical series. Seven of 8 samples subjected to RT-PCR-cDNA sequencing showed mutations in TSC2; none showed mutations in TSC1 or RHEB. Six of the seven mutations were deletions. We searched for 983 activating and inactivating mutations in 115 genes, and found none in these tumors. Similarly analysis for genomic regions of loss or gain, assessed by Affymetrix SNP6.0 analysis, showed no abnormalities. Loss of heterozygosity in the TSC2 region was commonly seen, except in patients with low frequency TSC2 mutations. We conclude that sporadic renal angiomyolipoma usually have mutations in TSC2, but not TSC1 or RHEB, and have no other common genomic events, among those we searched for. However, chromosomal translocations and gene fusion events were not assessed here. TSC2 inactivation by mutation is a consistent and likely necessary genetic event in the pathogenesis of most angiomyolipoma.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is among the most lethal complications that occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Podocyte dysfunction is postulated to be a critical event associated with proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis in glomerular diseases including DN. However, molecular mechanisms of podocyte dysfunction in the development of DN are not well understood. Here we have shown that activity of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), a kinase that senses nutrient availability, was enhanced in the podocytes of diabetic animals. Further, podocyte-specific mTORC1 activation induced by ablation of an upstream negative regulator (PcKOTsc1) recapitulated many DN features, including podocyte loss, glomerular basement membrane thickening, mesangial expansion, and proteinuria in nondiabetic young and adult mice. Abnormal mTORC1 activation caused mislocalization of slit diaphragm proteins and induced an epithelial-mesenchymal transition–like phenotypic switch with enhanced ER stress in podocytes. Conversely, reduction of ER stress with a chemical chaperone significantly protected against both the podocyte phenotypic switch and podocyte loss in PcKOTsc1 mice. Finally, genetic reduction of podocyte-specific mTORC1 in diabetic animals suppressed the development of DN. These results indicate that mTORC1 activation in podocytes is a critical event in inducing DN and suggest that reduction of podocyte mTORC1 activity is a potential therapeutic strategy to prevent DN.
Animal models of lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) are highly desired to enable detailed investigation of the pathogenesis of these diseases. Multiple rats and mice have been generated in which a mutation similar to that occurring in TSC patients is present in an allele of Tsc1 or Tsc2. Unfortunately, these mice do not develop pathologic lesions that match those seen in LAM or TSC. However, these Tsc rodent models have been useful in confirming the two-hit model of tumor development in TSC, and in providing systems in which therapeutic trials (e.g., rapamycin) can be performed. In addition, conditional alleles of both Tsc1 and Tsc2 have provided the opportunity to target loss of these genes to specific tissues and organs, to probe the in vivo function of these genes, and attempt to generate better models. Efforts to generate an authentic LAM model are impeded by a lack of understanding of the cell of origin of this process. However, ongoing studies provide hope that such a model will be generated in the coming years.
Increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity has been implicated in the pathogenesis of lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). The objective of this study was to investigate how tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) 1 or TSC2 deficiency alters MMP expression and regulation. We studied immortalized cells that lack TSC2 derived from an angiomyolipoma of a patient with LAM, a TSC2 addback derivative, and murine embryonic fibroblast cells that lack Tsc1 or -2 and respective controls. Global gene expression analysis was performed in the angiomyolipoma and derivative cell lines. MMP levels in the conditioned media from these cells were analyzed by zymography and ELISA. We found increased MMP-2 expression in cells lacking TSC1/TSC2 compared with their respective controls by zymography. MMP-2 overproduction by these cells was not affected by rapamycin treatment. Gene expression analysis confirmed increased MMP-2 gene expression that was not affected by rapamycin. Furthermore, multiple other genes were found to be overexpressed in rapamycin-treated TSC2-deficient cells compared with TSC2+ cells. We conclude that TSC1/TSC2 deficiency leads to MMP-2 overproduction that is rapamycin-insensitive, and that several genes exhibit similar patterns, suggesting that TSC1/TSC2–dependent, but mammalian target of rapamycin–independent, pathways may be involved in the pathogenesis of LAM.
interstitial collagenase; neoplasms; sirolimus
Tuberin, the Tsc2 gene product, integrates PI3K/MAPK (mitogenic) and LKB1/AMPK (energy) signaling pathways, and previous independent studies have shown that loss of tuberin is associated with elevated AMPK signaling and altered p27 function. In Tsc2-null tumors and tumor-derived cells from Eker rats, we observed elevated AMPK signaling and concordant cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27. Cytoplasmic localization of p27 in Tsc2-null cells was reversible pharmacologically using inhibitors of the LKB1/AMPK pathway, and localization of p27 to the cytoplasm could be induced directly by activating AMPK physiologically (glucose deprivation) or genetically (constitutively-active AMPK) in Tsc2-proficient cells. Furthermore, AMPK phosphorylated p27 in vitro on at least three sites including T170 near the NLS, and T170 was demonstrated to determine p27 localization in response to AMPK signaling. p27 functions in the nucleus to suppress Cdk2 activity, and has been reported to mediate an anti-apoptotic function when localized to the cytoplasm. We found that cells with elevated AMPK signaling and cytoplasmic p27 localization exhibited elevated Cdk2 activity, which could be suppressed by inhibiting AMPK signaling. In addition, cells with elevated AMPK signaling and cytoplasmic p27 localization were resistant to apoptosis, which could be overcome by inhibition of AMPK signaling and relocalization of p27 to the nucleus. These data demonstrate that AMPK signaling determines the subcellular localization of p27, and identifies loss of integration of pathways controlling energy balance, the cell cycle and apoptosis due to aberrant AMPK and p27 function as a feature of cells that have lost the Tsc2 tumor suppressor gene.
AMPK; TSC2; p27
mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1) activation has been demonstrated in response to endotoxin challenge, but the mechanism and significance are unclear. We investigated the effect of mTORC1 suppression in an animal model of endotoxemia and in a cellular model of endotoxin signaling.
Mice were treated with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin or vehicle prior to lethal endotoxin challenge. Mortality and cytokine levels were assessed. Cultured macrophage-like cells were challenged with endotoxin with or without inhibitors of various pathways known to be upstream of mTORC1. Activated pathways, including downstream S6K pathway, were assessed by immunoblots. We found that mTORC1-S6K suppression by rapamycin delayed mortality of mice challenged with lethal endotoxin, and was associated with dampened circulating levels of VEGF, IL-1β, IFN-γ and IL-5. Furthermore, in vitro cellular studies demonstrated that LPS (lipopolysaccharide) activation of mTORC1-S6K still occurs in the presence of PI3K-Akt inhibition alone, but can be suppressed by concurrent inhibition of PI3K-Akt and MEK-ERK pathways.
We conclude that cellular activation of mTORC1-S6K contributes to cytokine up-regulation and mortality in response to endotoxin, and may occur via multiple pathways.
Germline TSC1 or TSC2 mutations cause Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a hamartoma syndrome with lung involvement. To explore the potential interaction between TSC1 and KRAS activation in lung cancer, mice were generated in which Tsc1 loss and KrasG12D expression occur in a small fraction of lung epithelial cells. Mice with combined Tsc1-KrasG12D mutation had dramatically reduced tumor latency (median survival 11.6 – 15.6 weeks) in comparison to KrasG12D alone mutant mice (median survival 27.5 weeks). Tsc1-Kras G12D tumors showed consistent activation of mTORC1, and responded to treatment with rapamycin leading to significantly improved survival, while rapamycin had minor effects on cancers in KrasG12D alone mice. Loss of heterozygosity for TSC1 or TSC2 was found in 22% of 86 human lung cancer specimens. However, none of 80 lung cancer lines studied showed evidence of lack of expression of either TSC1 or TSC2 or a signaling pattern corresponding to complete loss. These data indicate Tsc1 loss synergizes with Kras mutation to enhance lung tumorigenesis in the mouse, but that this is a rare event in human lung cancer. Rapamycin may have unique benefit for lung cancer patients in which TSC1/TSC2 function is limited.
lung cancer; TSC1; KRAS; TSC2; mTOR
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a tumor suppressor gene syndrome in which hamartomas develop in multiple organ systems. Knockout and conditional alleles of Tsc1 and Tsc2 have been previously reported. Here, we describe the generation of a novel hypomorphic allele of Tsc2 (del3), in which exon 3, encoding 37 amino acids near the N terminus of tuberin, is deleted. Embryos homozygous for the del3 allele survive until E13.5, 2 days longer than Tsc2 null embryos. Embryos die from underdevelopment of the liver, deficient hematopoiesis, aberrant vascular development and hemorrhage. Mice that are heterozygous for the del3 allele have a markedly reduced kidney tumor burden in comparison with conventional Tsc2+/− mice. Murine embryo fibroblast (MEF) cultures that are homozygous for the del3 allele express mutant tuberin at low levels, and show enhanced activation of mTORC1, similar to Tsc2 null MEFs. Furthermore, the mutant cells show prominent reduction in the activation of AKT. Similar findings were made in the analysis of homozygous del3 embryo lysates. Tsc2-del3 demonstrates GTPase activating protein activity comparable to that of wild-type Tsc2 in a functional assay. These findings indicate that the del3 allele is a hypomorphic allele of Tsc2 with partial function due to reduced expression, and highlight the consistency of AKT downregulation when Tsc1/Tsc2 function is reduced. Tsc2-del3 mice also serve as a model for hypomorphic TSC2 missense mutations reported in TSC patients.
Inactivating mutations of the tumor suppressor gene, TSC2, are associated with tumorigenesis in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). Statins, as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, have the potential to limit the growth of these tumors by limiting the isoprenylation of activated GTPases in Tsc2 null cells. We tested atorvastatin as a therapy for a) ENU-enhanced renal cystadenoma and b) spontaneous liver hemangioma in 129Sv/Jae Tsc2+/- mice. ENU-treated Tsc2+/- mice were given atorvastatin chow (wt/wt 0.1%) for 1 month or 3 months, prior to sacrifice at 6 mo; 129Sv/Jae Tsc2+/- mice were given atorvastatin chow (wt/wt 0.1%) for 6 months prior to sacrifice at 12 mo. All treatment groups were compared to mice of identical genotype and strain background that were fed control chow. Pathological analyses revealed a predominance of renal cystadenoma in ENU-treated, and liver hemangioma in non-ENU-treated 129Sv/Jae Tsc2+/- mice. In both cohorts, serum cholesterol levels and levels of phosphorylated S6 (pS6) and GTP-RhoA in healthy tissue were significantly (> 50%) reduced in atorvastatin treated mice as compared to controls. Following atorvastatin treatment, no significant reduction in tumor size, morphology or pS6 levels was observed for either ENU-associated renal cystadenoma or spontaneous liver hemangioma as compared to the untreated groups. In conclusion, although the marked reduction in cholesterol levels indicates that atorvastatin was effective as an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, it not did inhibit the growth of tumors that develop in these Tsc2+/- models, suggesting that it is unlikely to have benefit as a single agent therapy for TSC-associated tumors.
Tuberin; TSC2; statin; tumor growth; murine model
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare autosomal dominant disorder characterized by hamartomas and hamartias in multiple organs. TSC is caused by a wide spectrum of mutations within the TSC1 and TSC2 genes. Here, we report a unique family with three independent pathological mutations in TSC2. A c.1322G > A mutation in exon 12 created a stop codon, whereas a second mutation in exon 23 (c.2713C > T) was a missense change. The third mutation was a 4 base pair deletion in intron 20 of TSC2. We showed that this mutation was responsible for abnormal splicing. The three mutations were most likely de novo, as parents of affected patients did not present any features of TSC. In addition, we showed gonadal mosaicism in a branch of the family. To our knowledge, several independent mutations in TSC2 have never been observed in a single family. The probability of finding a family with three different pathological TSC2 mutations is extremely low. We discuss two main hypotheses that may be raised to explain this recurrence: (i) the TSC2 mutation rate is underestimated. In such a case, the likelihood of finding a family with three independent mutations in TSC2 may not be dramatically low; (ii) a heritable defect in a DNA repair gene (eg, mismatch repair gene) segregating in the family that is unlinked to the TSC2 gene might predispose to the occurrence of multiple TSC2 gene mutations, used as a specific target during embryogenesis.
tuberous sclerosis; TSC2; de novo; mismatch repair; gonadal mosaicism; splicing
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors, gefitinib and erlotinib, are effective therapies against mutant non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). Treatment is limited by the development of resistance in part explained by the gain of a secondary EGFR mutation, T790M, at the gatekeeper residue. Irreversible EGFR inhibitors, including PF00299804, are effective in vitro and in vivo against EGFR mutant tumors that contain EGFR T790M and are currently under clinical development. In this study we generate models of resistance to PF00299804, using cell lines with EGFR T790M, and demonstrate that the PF00299804 resistant models develop focal amplification of EGFR that preferentially involves the T790M-containing allele. These PF00299804 resistant cell lines remain dependent on EGFR for growth as downregulation of EGFR by shRNA compromises their viability. We demonstrate that resistance to PF00299804 arises, at least in part, through selection of a pre-existing EGFR T790M amplified clone both in vitro and using a xenograft model in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that EGFR T790M is a common resistance mechanism to both reversible, and when amplified, the irreversible EGFR kinase inhibitors further emphasizing the need to develop more potent therapies against EGFR T790M. The findings can be used to guide studies of patient tumor specimens from ongoing clinical trials of irreversible EGFR kinase inhibitors.
Epidermal growth factor receptor; drug resistance; EGFR T790M; amplification; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; non-small cell lung cancer
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant neurocutaneous syndrome caused by mutations in TSC1 and TSC2. However, 10 to 15% TSC patients have no mutation identified with conventional molecular diagnostic studies. We used the ultra-deep pyrosequencing technique of 454 Sequencing to search for mosaicism in 38 TSC patients who had no TSC1 or TSC2 mutation identified by conventional methods. Two TSC2 mutations were identified, each at 5.3% read frequency in different patients, consistent with mosaicism. Both mosaic mutations were confirmed by several methods. Five of 38 samples were found to have heterozygous non-mosaic mutations, which had been missed in earlier analyses. Several other possible low frequency mosaic mutations were identified by deep sequencing, but were discarded as artifacts by secondary studies. The low frequency of detection of mosaic mutations, 2 (6%) of 33, suggests that the majority of TSC patients who have no mutation identified are not due to mosaicism, but rather other causes, which remain to be determined. These findings indicate the ability of deep sequencing, coupled with secondary confirmatory analyses, to detect low frequency mosaic mutations.
TSC; mosaicism; 454 Sequencing; TSC1; TSC2
The mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR) promotes anabolic cellular processes in response to growth factors and metabolic cues. The TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressors are major upstream inhibitory regulators of mTOR signaling. Mice with Rip2/Cre-mediated deletion of Tsc1 (Rip-Tsc1cKO mice) developed hyperphagia and obesity, suggesting that hypothalamic disruption (for which Rip2/Cre is well known) of Tsc1 may dysregulate feeding circuits via mTOR activation. Indeed, Rip-Tsc1cKO mice displayed increased mTOR signaling and enlarged neuron cell size in a number of hypothalamic populations, including Pomc neurons. Furthermore, Tsc1 deletion with Pomc/Cre (Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice) resulted in dysregulation of Pomc neurons and hyperphagic obesity. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, ameliorated the hyperphagia, obesity, and the altered Pomc neuronal morphology in developing or adult Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice, and cessation of treatment reinstated these phenotypes. Thus, ongoing mTOR activation in Pomc neurons blocks the catabolic function of these neurons to promote nutrient intake and increased adiposity.
Fibrinogen is a multifunctional circulating glycoprotein involved in wound-healing, thrombosis, platelet aggregation and inflammation, and elevated levels predict vascular disease. Despite evidence of such crucial biological functions and moderate heritability, comprehensive analysis of the influence of genetic variation on fibrinogen is not available.
Methods and Results
To address this issue, we undertook a genome-wide association study evaluating the potential relationships between 337,343 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and plasma fibrinogen levels among 17,686 apparently healthy women participating in the Women’s Genome Health Study (WGHS). As C-reactive protein is also an inflammatory marker known to predict cardiovascular diseases, we compared the determinants of fibrinogen levels with those of C-reactive protein.
Four novel loci were identified, in addition to the fibrinogen gene cluster, which were associated with fibrinogen levels at genome-wide levels of significance (range of P-values from 8.82×10-09 to 8.04×10-39). Two of the loci related to common chronic inflammatory diseases: the first, at locus 5q31.1 (SLC22A5, SLC22A4, IRF1) lies immediately adjacent to a locus linked to Crohn’s disease (P-value for lead SNP 1.24 × 10-12) and the second, at locus 17q25.1 (CD300LF, SLC9A3R1, NAT9) has been associated with psoriasis (P-value for lead SNP 7.72×10-11). A third locus at 1q21.3 (IL6R) lies within the interleukin 6 receptor gene, a critical component of the inflammatory cascade (P-value for lead SNP 1.80×10-11). A novel locus at 2q34 (CPS1) participates in the urea cycle (P-value 8.82×10-09). The majority of implicated SNPs showed little evidence of dual association with C-reactive protein levels.
An agnostic survey of the human genome identifies novel loci related to common chronic inflammatory diseases as genetic determinants of fibrinogen levels, in addition to loci that relate to the inflammatory cascade, the urea cycle and the fibrinogen gene cluster.
fibrinogen; genetics; inflammation; coagulation; women
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is a multi-system disorder that is highly variable in its clinical presentation. Current molecular diagnostic methods permit identification of mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 in 75–85% of TSC patients. Here we examine the clinical characteristics of those TSC patients who have no mutation identified (NMI). A retrospective review of our patient population that had comprehensive testing for mutations in TSC1/TSC2 identified 23/157 (15 %) that were NMI. NMI patients had a lower incidence of brain findings on imaging studies, neurological features, and renal findings than those with TSC2 mutations. In contrast, NMI patients had a lower incidence of seizures than TSC patients with TSC1 mutations, but had a higher incidence of both renal angiomyolipomas and pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis. This distinct constellation of findings suggest that NMI patients may have a unique molecular pathogenesis, different from that seen in TSC patients with the usual mutations in TSC1 and TSC2. We suggest that the mechanisms of disease in these patients include both mosaicism for a TSC2 mutation, and unusual non-coding region mutations in TSC2.
tuberous sclerosis complex; no mutation identified; mosaicism; lymphangioleiomyomatosis; angiomyolipoma
The receptor tyrosine kinase/PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (RTK/PI3K/AKT/mTOR) pathway is frequently altered in cancer, but the underlying mechanism leading to tumorigenesis by activated mTOR remains less clear. Here we show that mTOR is a positive regulator of Notch signaling in mouse and human cells, acting through induction of the STAT3/p63/Jagged signaling cascade. Furthermore, in response to differential cues from mTOR, we found that Notch served as a molecular switch to shift the balance between cell proliferation and differentiation. We determined that hyperactive mTOR signaling impaired cell differentiation of murine embryonic fibroblasts via potentiation of Notch signaling. Elevated mTOR signaling strongly correlated with enhanced Notch signaling in poorly differentiated but not in well-differentiated human breast cancers. Both human lung lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and mouse kidney tumors with hyperactive mTOR due to tumor suppressor TSC1 or TSC2 deficiency exhibited enhanced STAT3/p63/Notch signaling. Furthermore, tumorigenic potential of cells with uncontrolled mTOR signaling was suppressed by Notch inhibition. Our data therefore suggest that perturbation of cell differentiation by augmented Notch signaling might be responsible for the underdifferentiated phenotype displayed by certain tumors with an aberrantly activated RTK/PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Additionally, the STAT3/p63/Notch axis may be a useful target for the treatment of cancers exhibiting hyperactive mTOR signaling.
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is a neurogenetic disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in either the TSC1 or TSC2 genes and frequently results in prominent CNS manifestations including epilepsy, mental retardation, and autism spectrum disorder. The TSC1/TSC2 protein complex plays a major role in controlling the Ser/Thr kinase mTOR, which is a master regulator of protein synthesis and cell growth. In this study, we show that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress regulates TSC1/TSC2 complex to limit mTOR activity. In addition, Tsc2-deficient rat hippocampal neurons and brain lysates from a Tsc1-deficient mouse model both demonstrate elevated ER and oxidative stress. In Tsc2-deficient neurons, the expression of stress markers such as CHOP and HO-1 is increased, and this increase is completely reversed by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin both in vitro and in vivo. Neurons lacking a functional TSC1/TSC2 complex have increased vulnerability to ER stress-induced cell death via the activation of the mitochondrial death pathway. Importantly, knockdown of CHOP reduces oxidative stress and apoptosis in Tsc2-deficient neurons. These observations indicate that ER stress modulates mTOR activity through the TSC protein complex and that ER stress is elevated in cells lacking this complex. They also suggest that some of the neuronal dysfunction and neurocognitive deficits seen in TSC patients may be due to ER and oxidative stress, and therefore potentially responsive to agents moderating these pathways.
CHOP; ER stress; oxidative stress; rapamycin; Hippocampus; RNA interference